The Fish Sauce Cookbook50 Umami-Packed Recipes from Around the Globe

Move over Sriracha, fish sauce is the most popular ingredient in town. Long used as a key umami flavor in Asian cooking, now prominent chefs from across the country are using fish sauce in new and unexpected ways to flavor their recipes. It was recently included in Bon Appetit’s list of pantry essentials and appears on tables at Michelin Star-rated restaurants. Last year, the European Union started recognizing fish sauce from the Vietnam island of Phu Quoc as a “Protected Designation of Origin,” along the lines of Champagne for sparkling wine or Parmigiano-Reggiano for hard Italian cheese. Discover the origins of fish sauce, compare different brands and varieties, and learn about proper care and storage of this magical briny cooking liquid.

Home cooks will delight in the variety of recipes in the book, starting with the formula for making homemade fish sauce before moving onto slow-roasted meats and classic Italian pasta dishes, craft cocktails, salad dressings, and even desserts. Fifty recipes using fish sauce culled from today’s most innovative chefs and food personalities from around the globe include: Shrimp Toast with Nuom Choc from Kevin Luzande Acabar; Spiced Lacquered Duck Breasts from Andrew Zimmerman; Crispy Farmer’s Market Vegetables with Caramelized Fish Sauce from Chris Shepherd; Caramel Miso Glaze from Monica Pope; and Hamachi Tostadas with Fish Sauce Vinaigrette from Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo.

Veronica Meewes has been fascinated with food since her early days of kitchen experimentation while growing up in New Jersey.  She is an Austin-based journalist with ten years of experience writing about food, beverage, and travel. Her articles have appeared in Forbes Travel Guide, Food & Wine, TODAY Food, Serious Eats, Austin-American Statesman, CultureMap Austin, Edible Austin, Texas Highways, Austin Monthly, Citygram, and more. Veronica lives in Austin, Texas where she is a member of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance, and mom to two dogs and two cats.  Follow her adventures at



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Chef/Owner QUEALY WATSON | HOT JOY San Antonio, Texas

After the success of a Hot Joy pop-up at The Monterey, Quealy Watson and Chad Carey turned their concept into a brick-and-mortar restaurant in the spring of 2014 and were quickly named one of the top ten best new restaurants in the country by Bon Appétit magazine. These wings have earned a bit of notoriety themselves. “We wanted to take the idea of a fish sauce caramel and combine it with the crunchy textures of Korean fried chicken,” says Quealy, “but it needed to be more intense, more funk, more in your face. So we made a caramel with fish sauce, which adds a great depth of umami and an alluring aroma, then went one step further by adding Thai crab paste. The crab paste ups the umami and funk even further, and when combined with the twice-fried wings, you end up with a load of different sensations—funky, sweet, crunchy, addictive little snacks.”

½ cup fish sauce

1½ cups sugar

¼ cup Thai crab (or shrimp) paste in bean oil

6 cups vegetable or peanut oil, for frying

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ cup vodka

1½ cups cornstarch, divided

2 pounds chicken wings,separated into wingettes and drumettes

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup roasted salted peanuts, chopped

Cilantro, tender leaves and stems

Bring the fish sauce to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and cook until reduced by almost half, about 5 minutes. The fish sauce will darken in color and become very fragrant and pungent. Add the sugar and cook until an instant-read thermometer registers 230°F. The mixture will be thick and dark, like a caramel. Remove from the heat and whisk in the crab paste; set aside and keep warm.

Heat the oil in a large pot fitted with a deep-fry thermometer to 350°F. Meanwhile, whisk the flour, baking powder, vodka, 1 cup of the cornstarch, and 1¾ cups water in a medium bowl. The batter should be very thin, slightly thicker than milk and thinner than cream.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and toss in the remaining ½ cup cornstarch to coat. Shake off any excess.

Working in three batches, coat the chicken with the batter, then fry until the chicken is a light golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. A thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken pieces should register 165°F. Immediately toss into the warm caramel, letting the excess drip off. Serve topped with the peanuts and cilantro.

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Executive Chef/Partner ANNIE PETTRY | DECCA Louisville, Kentucky

MAKES: 17 Cups

At Decca in Louisville, Executive Chef Annie Pettry serves caramel corn to her guests as a last bite to signify the end of the meal. “This sweet and spicy caramel corn with fish sauce caramel is one of my favorites because it hits all the bases—sweet, salty, spicy, bitter,” she says. “The fish sauce in the caramel adds a deep, savory flavor and provides the salt to the caramel corn. I bet you can’t eat just one bite!

16 cups popped corn (from about ¾ cup kernels)

1 cup cashews, toasted

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 cup packed light brown sugar

¼ cup corn syrup

2 kaffir lime leaves

2 tablespoons minced lemongrass

2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

2 tablespoons fish sauce

½ teaspoon finely grated lime zest

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice

¼ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon togarashi

Preheat the oven to 200°F. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.

Combine the popped corn and cashews in a large bowl and set aside.

Combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, and ginger in a tall-sided heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and whisk in the fish sauce, lime zest, lime juice, and baking soda. Be careful, as the mixture will bubble up.

Quickly and carefully pour the caramel through a fine-mesh strainer onto the popcorn. Stir to evenly coat the popcorn and nuts with the caramel sauce. Sprinkle with togarashi.

Spread the caramel corn evenly over the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring every15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool before serving. The popcorn can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.


FromFish Sauce Cookbook, by Veronica Meewes/Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC.